De Young ages well

S.F.’s rebuilt museum celebrates anniversary with a free weekend

What’s a birthday without cake?

In addition to many other festivities, there will be free cake at the party this weekend celebrating the anniversary of the opening of the new de Young Museum, noted John Buchanan, director of San Francisco’s Fine Arts Museums.

The festivities to honor the new de Young’s first birthday begin Friday night and continue Saturday. Founded in 1895, the old de Young was torn down in 2000. The San Francisco cultural institution was redesigned, opening its doors Oct. 15, 2005. Since then, 1.6 million people have visited the museum.

“What I want to do is say thank you to the Bay Area,” Buchanan said. “People of this area built this museum. Come, come celebrate.”

The birthday bash gets under way Friday night. The galleries will be open, there will be a no-host bar, and attendees can dance until midnight to the music of the Salvador Santana Band, Drum Circles and the Voices of Latin Rock All Stars. Also, Marc Pinate of Galeria de la Raza will curate spoken-word performances.

On Saturday, the museum will be free to public. Mayor Gavin Newsom will help cut the cake. Musical and dance performances are scheduled throughout the day in a variety of styles, from Tahitian to Ancient MesoAmerican. Educational programs, including art making and a slide lecture, will also be free.

Buchanan is expecting a large turnout. In July, the museum hosted a free day, and 10,000 visitors passed through the doors during an eight-hour period. And 50,000 people attended opening weekend last year. He loves a crowd, and said that the building’s ability to “receive and absorb” visitors impresses him. The museum has nearly 80,000 members.

“It is a magnetic piece of architecture that doesn’t just attract artists, architects and design mavens — but John and Jane Doe and their children,” he said.

In celebration of its inaugural year, the de Young will look closely at California art with two exhibitions that open Nov. 18, Buchanan explained. “The Sculptures of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air” will be the first complete retrospective of the Californian known for her public art and wire sculptures. The de Young will also feature an exhibition of 19th century California landscape paintings, which includes painters Guy Rose and William Keith.

Other exhibitions to look forward to over the next year, Buchanan remarked, include a retrospective of punk and new wave fashion icon Vivienne Westwood and — “several generations of school children later” — an exhibition of King Tut artifacts, marking the 30th anniversary of the King Tut exhibition first visit to San Francisco.

De Young Museum’s First Anniversary Celebration

Where: The new de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

When: Birthday celebration begins Friday at 5 p.m.

Price: Free

Info: Call (415) 863-3330 or visit www.thinker.org/deyoung

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